The question may thus be raised, “Why couldn’t Raghunātha dāsa have remained in his opulent life, but use everything in Kṛṣṇa’s service? Why did he have to renounce his material wealth, rather than using it to propagate Kṛṣṇa consciousness? His father and uncle were using their money to support brāhmaṇas and worship the Deity, which seems spiritual. Why did Lord Caitanya speak so adamantly about their position?
My understanding is that everything happens by the will of the Supreme Lord. He has a plan for every one of us. He knows how to engage someone for executing His mission.
In the case of Raghunath dasa, it is the plan of Lord Caitanya to use him to propagate the cult of Krsna consciousness throughout the world. The Supreme Lord appears on the plan to deliver the pious, annihilate the demons and to re-establish the principles of religion. And whenever He appears, He appears along with His associates. Lord Caitanya also appeared to deliver the fallen souls through chanting the Holy Name of Lord Krsna. And along with Him also appeared His associates such as Raghunath dasa. Through Raghunath dasa, the Lord wanted to re-establish the principles of bhakti.
SB 11.5.32: In this Age of Kali, people who are endowed with sufficient intelligence will worship the Lord, who is accompanied by His associates, by performance of saṅkīrtana-yajña.
Lord Caitanya desired that Raghunath dasa renounce everything and take shelter of the Supreme Lord. The Lord desired that Raghunath dasa be trained in Krsna consciousness before he becomes one of the most-exalted Six Goswamis. Therefore the Lord entrusted Raghunath dasa under the guidance and tutelage of Svarupa Damodara for training. The Lord said to Svarupa Damodara: “My dear Svarūpa, I entrust this Raghunātha dāsa to you. Please accept him as your son or servant. There are now three Raghunāthas among My associates. From this day forward, this Raghunātha should be known as the Raghu of Svarūpa Dāmodara.”
This is one explanation.
Another explanation that I can think of is that not everyone is qualified to renounce everything the way Raghunath dasa, and earlier, Rupa and Sanatana Goswami did. If remaining in opulent life and using everything in Krsna’s service is the only way, then the Lord could well have advised them to stay in their respective material positions. Both Sanatana and Rupa Goswami were very high-ranking ministers in the cabinet of Nawab Hussain Shah. And Raghunath dasa is the son of a very rich father. But the Lord wanted them to renounce everything. Real spiritual progress is made when one is able to renounce everything material. Anyābhilāṣitā-śūnyaṁ jñāna-karmādy-anāvṛtam.
Remaining in material world and using everything for Krsna’s service is usually recommended for those who engage in karma-misra-bhakti and not very advanced in devotional service. This rule is usually applied to grihastas. Such people engage in devotional service mixed with fruitive activities. Since such people are somewhat attached to their material life and not able to renounce them completely, Krsna advises them to use their wealth for His service. In this way they will not get entangled in the results of their work. Krsna advises one based on one’s material mode of nature, natural propensity, and one’s conditioning. Only He knows what is best for us.
All said and done, the final verdict is given by Lord Caitanya who showed utter disdain for one attached to material wealth. The Lord said:
CC Antya 6.197-200 — “My dear Raghunātha dāsa, your father and his elder brother are just like worms in stool in the ditch of material enjoyment, for the great disease of the poison of material enjoyment is what they consider happiness. Although your father and uncle are charitable to brāhmaṇas and greatly help them, they are nevertheless not pure Vaiṣṇavas. However, they are almost like Vaiṣṇavas. Those who are attached to materialistic life and are blind to spiritual life must act in such a way that they are bound to repeated birth and death by the actions and reactions of their activities. By His own free will, Lord Kṛṣṇa has delivered you from such a condemned materialistic life. Therefore the glories of Lord Kṛṣṇa’s causeless mercy cannot be expressed.”
Material enjoyment is a great evil and the biggest stumbling block to one’s spiritual progress. When a man is attached to material enjoyment, he is attached to many miserable conditions, but nevertheless he accepts his condemned position as one of happiness. Sense enjoyment is so strong for such a person that he cannot give it up, exactly as a worm in stool cannot give up the stool. From the spiritual point of view, when a person is too absorbed in material enjoyment, he is exactly like a worm in stool. Although such a position is utterly miserable to the eyes of liberated souls, the materialistic enjoyer is greatly attached to it. (CC Antya 6.197-200 purport).
Lord Caitanya hence advises that pure vaisnavas should have no desire for material enjoyment. Srila Narottama dasa Thakura has sung in a celebrated song, visaya chadiya kabe suddha habe mana: “When my mind will be purified after leaving the contamination of material sense enjoyment, I shall be able to visit Vrndavana.”
Lately when we read the lesson, we should carefully note that the Supreme Lord, being the paramatma in everyone’s heart, guided Raghunata dasa to complete renunciaion according to his inner desire. First the Lord sent Raghunath dasa’s spiritual master Yadunandana Acarya. The Lord guides His devotees externally as the spiritual master and internally as the Supersoul. Yadunandana Ācārya said, “He has already asked my permission and returned home.” (CC Antya 6.176-177). This is a profound statement. To a mundane person, home means one’s material home where one lives with one’s material family. But I think Yadunandana Acarya actually meant the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord. That is our real home. So when he allowed Raghunath dasa to return home, he actually permitted his disciple to return to Jagannath Puri and take shelter of Lord Caitanya. This is my humble realization (I could be wrong).
In summary, Raghunath dasa’s complete renunciation of his material wealth could only happen by the direction of the Supreme Lord. He is the supreme doer; not the jiva. Everything happens by his direction.
BG 18.61: The Supreme Lord is situated in everyone’s heart, O Arjuna, and is directing the wanderings of all living entities, who are seated as on a machine, made of the material energy.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada!